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Trial Opens for Woman Charged in Killing Husband Returning From Gulf War

May 25, 1994

DETROIT (AP) _ A woman accused of ordering the slaying of her husband when he returned from the Gulf War had insisted that he buy a $150,000 life insurance policy, an insurance salesman testified.

Toni Cato Riggs is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation to commit murder and using a firearm in a felony in the March 1991 death of Army Spc. Anthony Riggs, 23.

Riggs was shot to death on a Detroit street just days after returning home from the war against Iraq.

Prosecutors contend that Cato Riggs, 25, conspired with her brother, Michael Cato, to have her husband killed. Cato was convicted of murder and is serving life in prison.

The first witness in her trial, insurance salesman Richard Thomas of El Paso, Texas, testified Tuesday that he met with the couple at Fort Bliss, Texas, just before Riggs left for the Persian Gulf. He said Cato Riggs wanted her husband’s life insured for $150,000.

″You don’t need that much insurance,″ Thomas recalled Riggs as telling his wife, who responded: ″Yes, I do.″

″What Toni Cato Riggs really wanted is for her husband not to return from the Gulf alive, but he did return alive, so she ordered him dead,″ Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told the jury.

″Right after Army Specialist Riggs had laid down his weapons for peace, Michael Cato and his sister, Toni Cato Riggs, were picking up weapons to cause his death, because they wanted the money that his dead body could bring,″ she said.

Cato Riggs’ attorney, Althina Siringas, said the plot outlined by Worthy is untrue.

″You’re going to find out that Miss Riggs had nothing to do with what happened to her husband,″ she told jurors.

Cato Riggs also faces a second solicitation charge. Authorities say she tried to hire someone to kill another man who implicated her in the slaying during her brother’s trial.

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